‘Growing the game of golf’ is probably the most common phrase we’ve heard as golf fans over the last handful of years in and around the game. Whether it’s at your local club, a youth clinic, a post round press conference, it’s everywhere. And it looks to be working at a lot of different levels. Golf has undoubtedly grown in popularity among the general public in terms of the amount of rounds being played year over year, the PGA Tour has never been more popular in its history of the league, we’re seeing competing products emerge and then there’s the king indicator, money and there’s more and more money to go around than ever before. For context and just one example of many, the 2022 Masters winner’s purse was $2.7 million and just 20 years prior it was only $1 million.
Almost everyone is familiar with the new Saudi-backed LIV Golf International Series launching next month in London and now we’re hearing rumblings of another league emerging The Premier Golf League. Funny enough, the structure of LIV was built off the blueprints of PGL. They are trying to incorporate 18, 48-player, 54 hole events into the PGA Tour schedule, which they believe can generate $10 million of equity value by 2030, which would add up to $20 million per PGA Tour voting member and $3 million per Korn Ferry Tour member over the next eight years. According to an article on SI.com the PGL would issue shares equal to 50 percent to PGA Tour players, 7.5 percent to the Korn Ferry players, 2.5 percent to DP World Tour players, 5 percent to the Tour’s commercial partners, 2.5 percent to PGL’s directors (which could include commissioner Jay Monahan), 7.5 percent to a charitable foundation (to benefit the amateur game) and 25 percent to the World Golf Group, which PGL operates under and is based in London.
PGA Tour Policy Board member Rory McIlroy has said it is his duty to take the Premier Golf League plan to players, so we’ll see where this is headed. What’s clear is the goal of these new leagues is to distribute more of the event purse to the players by holding events with smaller competition fields. There’s plenty of money to go around, and the fact is sooner or later the PGA Tour is going to have to embrace the changing landscape of their professional sports league.